CELEBRATING COMMUNITY FOOD ACTION WITH GORDON NEIGBHOURHOOD HOUSE

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    This is the sixth in a series of blog posts featuring each of our Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks.


    Joey Sing Yiu Liu (she, her, hers) identifies as an immigrant settler born in Hong Kong, who has now lived on unceded Coast Salish homelands for 30 years. She has worked as the farmer and community programmer at Gordon Neighbourhood House for 3.5 years.

    Gordon Neighbourhood House envisions a dynamic, diverse neighbourhood where everyone is empowered to play a role in their community. Their mission is moving together to build connection and opportunity in their neighbourhood—for today and tomorrow. As a Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Network member organization, they provide dignified food access to West End residents and use food as a vehicle to bring people together.

    Joey is proud of Gordon House’s commitment to meet people where they’re at and create opportunities for the community to lead and share their creative ideas. She also appreciates how their team and organization are committed to social justice issues and take opportunities to learn and grow with the community. 

    “Gordon House is often described as people’s second home, and that also reflects our welcoming and safe environment,” says Joey. “I’m biased but I think we do really amazing food work!”

    Before March 2020, Gordon House grew fresh veggies through their Urban Farm program, that went back to the House’s kitchen and Community Lunch Program. Their approach to dignified food distribution included the West End Community Food Hub, food asset mapping, community lunches, food skills and gardening workshops , low-cost produce markets, and a Farmers Market coupon program. Twice a week, their resident Chef also taught Out of School Care kids how to make healthy snacks and practice proper knife skills. Food justice advocacy and advocating for Indigenous land sovereignty have also been central to the work of the Gordon House team.

    Farm-fresh Gordon Greens, grown in the West End neighbourhood.

    Gordon House started doing programs and outreach online once COVID-19 began, which included cooking and delivering healthy frozen prepared meals to over 40 seniors in the West End.. Along with United Way’s Local Love Food Hubs, they worked to redistribute needed supplies to community members and partners.

    Although folks couldn’t meet in person, Gordon House posted online cooking recipes and videos to help neighbours feel inspired and supported. In June, they adjusted and launched their urban farm program to focus on connection to land and nature-based learning, at a time when people were feeling increasingly isolated and looking for ways to spend time outside.

    Food asset mapping also became a priority, and the House offered a one-time emergency food distribution to 150 Food Hub members before neighbourhood Food Hubs were centralized by the Greater Vancouver Food Bank. The Famers Market coupon program remained in effect, and Gordon House distributed $60,000 worth of grocery gift cards to neighbours. Throughout these past months, they have remained dedicated to sharing and developing West End food resources.

    Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks

    As one of many Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks (VNFN), Joey describes VNFN as “a supportive network where we can work collaboratively and respectfully around ideas and solutions that help each respective network and the local food system across Vancouver.” 

    “We often talk about how this collective should focus on work that we can’t do as an individual network, and during COVID we saw this more than ever when network coordinators worked closely together around emergency food distribution and other initiatives,” says Joey. “I’ve really appreciated the support and collaboration during COVID when everything was so overwhelming, and also VNFN Coordinator Sarah Kim’s amazing (and magic!) leadership where she funnelled so many resources and contacts between people.”

    “Overall, I appreciate the work that we do around food justice and advocacy, especially when we use a holistic and intersectional approach, because this is how we will truly help change the food system,” says Joey. “It’s also really important to me that everyone who comes to the table is respectful and willing to learn and grow.”

    Neighbours gather at the Gordon Neighbourhood House GBQ in 2018

    What Neighbours are Saying

    When Gordon House distributed packages of Farmers Market coupons and grocery card vouchers to some members, people mentioned how they felt like they were opening a Christmas package. They shared a lot of nice comments about their appreciation, as well as pictures about the produce they bought and meals they made using the vouchers.

    One member in particular said: “This is the only light in my life right now and I sure appreciate it.”

    An image of brightly coloured garden veggies on a neighbour's dining room table
    A neighbour shared this photo of fresh fruit and veggies purchased with the vouchers Gordon Neighbourhood House distributed.

    Future Goals

    Gordon House’s future goals include deepening their process for uplifting community voices and action, and  helping to support community members to make things happen. They aim to provide more dignified emergency food access for the West End neighbourhood via stronger network and community partnerships—while relying less on the Greater Vancouver Food Bank. For Gordon House, deepening the organization’s actions and commitment to social justice issues is centred around decolonization, anti-racism and inclusivity, and these values will continue to inform the work they do.

    Learn more, contribute, and celebrate community food action with Gordon Neighbourhood House


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